Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday Open Thread

Here's a reprint of an article in Crosscut from 2011 on earthquake preparedness.  Also, I went to KUOW's Week in Review at U Heights and they had an expert who thinks two things.  One, Seattle won't be near as devastated as cities/towns right on the coast and two, that the fault right under Seattle would be the worst earthquake (even if a smaller one like 6.0).

Boy, that new version of NCLB can't come fast enough (or Arne Duncan leave soon enough).   From the Answer Sheet at the Washington Post, Obama administration denies state’s request to relax test mandates for students with serious disabilities:

The state of New York asked the U.S. Department of Education if it could get flexibility from federal law to test students with disabilities — those with “significant intellectual delays and substantial difficulties in cognitive areas such as memory, language comprehension, reasoning and problem-solving” — based on their developmental level and not, as required, on their age.
The answer was “no.”
New York officials also asked for flexibility to allow new English language speakers to have two years — instead of one — before they must take the state’s English Language arts exams for Grades 3-8. Given that English is a hard language to learn, and that it takes years to become proficient, that seemed like a reasonable request, too.
The answer, again, was “no.”
According to the New York State School Boards Association:
Both requests were aimed at reducing stress on students and yielding more useful results. State officials say that federal rules that require testing students at their chronological age, with narrow exceptions for students with very severe disabilities, set up some disabled students for failure and turn the tests into stressful guessing games. School officials in districts with many immigrant students say one year often is not enough for new arrivals to be ready to take language arts exams written in English.
 New story on Washington State opt outs for NPR from KPLU's Kyle Stokes.

Seen this episode of The Simpsons about digital learning?  Pretty funny (as usual).

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

I just received my ballot and voters pamphlet. There are no school board candidates for District 1 or District 2 in the voters pamphlet. I live in District 1 and there are no candidates on my ballot. Is this a mistake? Are there no candidates running in District 1 or because there are only 2 there is no need for a primary? No explanation in the voters pamphlet.

Longtime Lurker

Melissa Westbrook said...

Longtime, yes, it would be helpful to voters to explain.

For School Board, in the primary, you ONLY vote if your district is up for election. This cycle there are four regions, 1 2,3, and 6. Only voters in each region can vote in the primary.

In the General, the top two from the primary go on and we ALL vote - all city voters - for ALL four positions.

Yes, it's odd and I was told it came about from something to do about rural counties.

Anonymous said...

Who was it here that wrote that WA receives very little Federal funding? 1 Billion dollars a year is not "very little" by any measurement. That would cover the entire SPS blotted yearly operating and construction/maintenance budget.

Whether it's simply a response to a quirk in the state's graduation requirements or the broader political environment, the dramatic flare-up of anti-testing sentiment has education leaders in the Evergreen State nervous about the possible consequences.

On top of the mandate that schools and districts test their students, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requires states to ensure 95 percent of students take the tests. In Washington, so many juniors skipped that the state's overall K-12 testing rate dipped below that threshold, to around 90 percent.

This is likely the first time a state has fallen short, making it hard to know how the feds will respond. But state officials fear the U.S. Department of Education will penalize Washington, perhaps even cutting some of the $1 billion in federal education funding the state receives annually.


Patrick said...

$1 billion is not very much when it's spread across the whole state.

Duncan's Dept. of Ed. is already penalizing Washington. Is there more he can do? I swear, that man could make one want to turn Republican.

Anonymous said...

If we don't want to play be the rules then don't expect the funding. Why can't people understand such a simple concept?


Patrick said...

Why should the Sect. of Ed. get to make up rules that are completely unrelated to the statutes Congress passed?

Anonymous said...

by the rules, not be the rules


Anonymous said...

The Feds may hand out $1B to the state, but you also have to look at how much the state has to pay to meet federal mandates. There was a study out of Vermont that I cannot find right now that detailed how the state's expenditures to meet NCLB mandates were nearly the same as the money coming in from the Feds. While I doubt WA would be that close given that its a much larger and more diverse state, it's also worth looking at, and it is something most politicians, state, and federal officials tend to avoid talking about.
Also, Dems around the state have been very ticked off with Duncan's research-free educ policies and the punishment we've received. If the Feds decide they are going to punish WA even more, you're going to have some major outcry from local Dem politicians who will see their re-election hopes diminished as the GOP starts pushing the federal overreach fear factor into high gear.


Anonymous said...

Also MJ, when the "rules" are crap, based on ideology rather than any research, it's not such a simple concept. Do you harm kids by following the "rules", or do you do what is best for kids? Do you punish teachers who work in low-income schools or with special needs populations by tying their teacher evals (and jobs) to student test scores? Do you stick low-income schools with the least experienced teachers who head out to suburban (richer) schools and districts as soon as they can enough experience to be hired so that they can get better test scores and keep their job? Test scores are more closely correlated with zip code than anything else. You can have poor teachers getting great evals because their test scores are so high simply because they are on Mercer Island, and their students have tutors, music lessons, food, medical care, etc. Furthermore, do you do what Florida and other states have done and evaluate teachers by the test scores of students they have never taught? How is that fair? How does that represent their teaching? How does that help kids? That's why WA was "punished" the first time by Arne - there were too many issues for WA legislators that were not answered.

With the SBAC issue, juniors take enough tests, and this one did not count for anything. Why should they waste their time on a crappy test that has no meaning? I suspect there will be even more opt-outs next year in the lower grades, as I heard from teacher friends and parent friends who were all disgusted by the content of the tests, the technology, the amount of time kids spent testing, the "accommodations" and supports that weren't really useful. One parent I know is already planning on a trip to the grandparents house during testing time after her daughter spent 2 1/2 days just on part 1 of the ELA test at third grade (parent is a lawyer and remarked that the bar exam is much shorter).
No research shows this wide-scale annual testing improves instruction or learning, but there is plenty of documentation about the deleterious effects of high-stakes testing. No peer-reviewed research shows the turnaround plans/school closure/staff replacement has a positive effect. The Bush admin pulled the NCLB pillars and guidelines out of their corporate a**es and the same ideology has continued with Arne Duncan, an unqualified hack hired for who he knew rather than what he knew.


Melissa Westbrook said...

MJ, the concept of "playing by the rules" has not been all that helpful (via NCLB which is where those rules come into play). Overall, public ed has not benefited from NCLB and Arne Duncan has shown he wants to use it as a stick.

People of good faith can stand up for what they believe in and,apparently, parents across the country are doing just that.

Ann D said...

The amount given the district per student is incredibly small. They pool the money into certain schools to supposedly get the most effect or something like that. If the money was to follow the student you would laugh at how little it is in actuality.

I too question whether our expenditures in meeting the Federal mandates don't exceed the dollars we receive.

Anonymous said...

The current ridiculous state of the "rules" has many teachers leaving the system or hanging on until retirement.

Teachers are encumbered with tasks that have nothing to do with teaching or becoming a better teacher. Professional Development and Professional Learning Communities have morphed into "Nonsense Indoctrination" in far too many instances, but have expanded business opportunities for those developing and presenting Professional Stuff.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...


Let us look at NAEP results comparing Before Arne Duncan and his rules with during Arne's rules.

Mr. Duncan served as CEO of Chicago Schools from 2001 - 2009

Mr. Duncan became US Secretary of Ed on January 20, 2009

NAEP scores for 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013 are easily found and can be inspected for various ethnic subgroups in those years but more importantly so can the results for students by achievement percentiles Low Achieving Kids (10th & 25th percentile) and High Achieving Kids (75th and 90th percentile).

Mr. Duncan's rules imposed 4 ineffective reform models to "improve" low performing schools.

Look at Grade 4 Reading HERE

.... 10th : 25th : 50th : 75th : 90th
1992 170 : 194 : 219 : 242 : 261
2005 171 : 196 : 221 : 244 : 263
2007 174 : 199 : 224 : 246 : 264
2009 175 : 199 : 223 : 245 : 264
2011 174 : 200 : 224 : 246 : 264
2013 174 : 200 : 225 : 247 : 265

Gains +0 :: +0 :: +1 :: +1 :: +1 (2011 to 2013)

Change +4 :: +3 :: +2 :: +1 :: +1 (2005 to 2009) Before Duncan
Change -1 :: +1 :: +2 :: +2 :: +1 (then 2009 to 2013)

Look at Grade 4 MATH HERE

.... 10th : 25th : 50th : 75th : 90th
1992 171 : 193 : 214 : 235 : 253
2005 200 : 220 : 239 : 258 : 273
2007 202 : 222 : 242 : 260 : 275
2009 202 : 221 : 241 : 260 : 275
2011 203 : 222 : 242 : 261 : 276
2013 203 : 222 : 243 : 262 : 278

Gains +0 :: +0 :: +1 :: +1 :: +2 (2011 to 2013)

Change +2 :: +1 :: +2 :: +2 :: +2 (2005 to 2009) Before Duncan
Change +1 :: +1 :: +2 :: +2 :: +3 (then 2009 to 2013)

Despite Arne Duncan's rhetoric about closing achievement gaps and his concern for the struggling learner, his policies did little if anything for those struggling learners in elementary schools as shown by NAEP performance for those at 10th and 25th percentile.

Anonymous said...

NAEP and Arne Duncan's tenure .. for grade 8

Overview 2009-2013 very positive results in reading for all 5 student percentile groups. In math not so as all 5 percentile groups although improving showed less growth from 2009-2013 than they did during the previous four years.

READING 8th grade
...... 10th : 25th : 50th : 75th : 90th
Change +3 :: +3 :: +2 :: +3 :: +0 (2005 to 2009) Before Duncan
Change +4 :: +3 :: +2 :: +3 :: +5 (then 2009 to 2013)

Gains +2 :: +2 :: +2 :: +2 :: +3 (2011 to 2013)

MATH 8th grade
...... 10th : 25th : 50th : 75th : 90th
Change +5 :: +4 :: +4 :: +4 :: +5 (2005 to 2009) Before Duncan
Change +1 :: +2 :: +2 :: +2 :: +2 (then 2009 to 2013)

Gains +0 :: +1 :: +1 :: +1 :: +2 (2011 to 2013)

12 Grade NAEP showed proficiency unchanged in both reading and math from 2009 to 2013.

Think of all those Race to the Top dollars spent. Will 2015 NAEP be better?

Math Proficiency grade 12:
23 2005
26 2009
26 2013

Reading Proficiency grade 12:
40 1992
38 2009
38 2013

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Why was anyone listening to Arne Duncan?

His performance in Chicago produced no better performance on NAEP than for any other large city.

Here is the proof. Compare Chicago with large city performance from 2003 to 2009
in reading grade 4
+8 Large City average
+6 Chicago average

in math grade 4
+7 Large City average
+8 Chicago average

in reading grade 8
+3 Large City average
+1 Chicago average

in math grade 8
+9 Large City average
+10 Chicago average

Following Arne Duncan was encouraged because he was selling what "Ed Reform" Oligarchs wanted sold. Results are not important in this rigged game.

Arne's rules ruled without any apparent data based reason. Beware the Common Core etc.

-- Dan Dempsey

just sayin' said...

MJ, don't you have a website to get up and going?

just sayin' said...

Thanks Dan that is very helpful.

Anonymous said...

The Seventy Four

Campbell Brown's new website. 74 Million Reasons to Talk About Education.

In typical Ed Reformer fashion, there are reasons to talk about education BUT there is no way to leave a comment on this website.

Smacks of indoctrination not "talk".

Nicholas Kristoff NY Times Bill and Melinda Gates’s Pillow Talk

This NY Times opinion article allows comments. Gates Foundation education efforts are being roundly criticized in the comments. {{Little wonder that Brown has no setup from comments at The Seventy Four}}

From the Kristoff column:

In contrast, they acknowledge, the foundation’s investments in education here in the United States haven’t paid off as well.

“There’s no dramatic change,” Bill acknowledged. “It’s not like under-5 mortality, where you see this dramatic improvement.”

But both Bill and Melinda insist that they aren’t dispirited by the lack of transformational progress in education. “We’re still very committed,” Bill says.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Common Core PARC test in Death Spiral

Perhaps Bill and Melinda Gates should read the article and note the criticism about the clandestine development of CCSS by Gates Foundation financed organizations.

Time for Washington state to walk away from CCSS.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

On the HALA recommendations: The Times guest opinion by a committee member talks about 6% of SFZ being upzoned. This includes Roosevelt/Ravenna. Is there a map or description of the area where the changes would take place?

RR dweller

Anonymous said...

RR Dweller,

I would post the link but the map is so poor you would be guessing what is what. Search HALA Seattle.


Anonymous said...

Here is a link to the upzones placed over google maps:

Here is a link to the upzones map:


Melissa Westbrook said...

RR Dweller, if you would like to see the letter I sent as a resident of RR to the Council and the Mayor, shoot me an e-mail at

Anonymous said...

Yeah thanks for the links HP but the up zone map is impossible to discern actual streets being affected. Oh well if I read it correctly streets are split down the middle with one side being up zoned and the other not. Ridiculous.